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Cultural Humility and Dewey’s Pattern of Inquiry: Developing Good Attitudes and Overcoming Bad Habits

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When we assume that we have cultural competence rather than thoroughly engaging in what Dewey calls the pattern of inquiry, we fail to achieve cultural humility. By analyzing how habits undermine inquiry and underlie failure in situations that call for cultural humility, we may be better equipped to address unintentional offenses. In this essay, I define cultural humility and contrast it with cultural competence, explaining why aiming for cultural competence alone is problematic. Next, I consider the attributes necessary for cultural humility and the attitudes that Dewey considers beneficial for inquiry. This is followed by an outline of Dewey’s pattern of inquiry and explanation of how unquestioned habits of thought short-circuit our ability to become culturally humble. I suggest that we forgo attempting to achieve cultural competence and instead use Dewey’s pattern of inquiry with the attitudes he recommends as tools to work toward cultural humility.

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Prairie View A&M University, Woolfolk 315, P.O. Box 519; MS 2203, Prairie View, TX 77446, Office: 936-261-3216


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